Soccer / league
Belgian League Playoffs | Format + Calendar
The Playoffs got introduced in the Belgian League 9 seasons ago as a way to "improve the overall team quality with more top matches" (read "to generate more income"). The entire system remains controversial and quite complicated to outsiders. I will try to break it down in this post & the calendar also got released yesterday. PLAYOFF 1 So the top 6 in the standing after 30 weeks of the regular season will play against each other in playoff 1 to decide who will be the champion and who will get the European tickets. The most controversial part of the system is without a doubt that the points collected during the regular season are halved. This is done to artificially make everything more exciting and each season there is a lot of talk about how unfair the system is. To quiet this down a bit they now ensure the champion of the regular season a guaranteed European Ticket. This season everything is quite close and pretty much all 6 teams have the potential to become the new champion if they manage to reach their peak form during this time of the year. Even though it is rare, it has been seen in the past how lower ranked teams got in an excellent flow which still got them the title. On the other hand, something that happens quite often is the team on top getting hit by a hammer since their lead got shrunk down a lot. Most of the seasons there is also 1 team who sneaked into the top 6 and collapses during the playoffs because they have a rather small team not being able to cope with the fatigue along with the fact that they play all matches against good teams. One thing is for sure, it all will be very exciting and a lot is about to happen in the last 2 months of the season! PLAYOFF 1 CALENDAR The Belgian League is really great when it comes down to the times matches are being played. Spread over 3 days and different hours so it's possible to fully watch 6 out of 8 matches each weekend. This will again be the case for Playoff 1 with always a match on Friday evening and most times also a match on Saturday and Sunday. The last 2 weeks all games are played simultaneously. PLAYOFF 2 Playoff 2 has always been something of a graveyard for most teams. All teams that are not in the top 6 aside from the team that relegated take part in playoff2 along with some teams from the 2nd division. They are split into 2 groups and play for the last European ticket. This is such a longshot that most teams don't take it that seriously. In order to get the European ticket, a team has to win their group, play the winner of the other group in a double encounter and play a match against the 5th in playoff 1 standings. Most teams start this competition to see how it goes and reevaluate after a couple of matches to maybe give young players a chance. Many matches turn out in boring obligated matches with few fans in the stadion. There are exceptions with matches that have 6+ goals that can be interesting betting wise though. All teams in both playoff 2 competitions start from 0 points again and the 2 best teams from 2nd division are added just to create more matches. The 2nd division works with play-downs where matches are being played to decide the team that relegates. PLAYOFF 1 CALENDAR That's it when it comes down to the playoffs in Belgium. Altogether there are 95 more matches to be played (including the cup final) before the 2018-2019 Season comes to an end. I'm not so much looking forward to the playoff 2 matches but the fight for the title and the European tickets should be quite exciting.